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Calif. man charged in new scam on women in 70s

Posted: August 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:00 a.m.
 

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A 55-year-old Riverside County man charged with conning two women out of tens of thousands of dollars was convicted years ago in Orange County in a similar scam, authorities said.

Frankie Jay Szabo was booked Thursday on several counts including theft by false pretense, grand theft and elder abuse, according to Riverside County sheriff's officials. He was being held with no bail amount set, jail records show.

"This guy is a creep," sheriff's Investigator Glenn Johnson told the Riverside Press Enterprise (http://bit.ly/QHqxKd ). "His whole life is conning women."

Szabo convinced a 70-year-old Homeland woman to take out a loan on her house to fund a surgery supposedly needed to save his stepfather's life, Johnson said.

In another case, a 71-year-old Lake Elsinore woman gave Szabo $10,000 to pay for a life-saving surgery he said he needed.

In fact, neither man was sick. The money was used to pay for a Mercedes, meals at restaurants and shopping trips, Johnson said.

"It's financing his lifestyle," Johnson told the newspaper.

One of the women fears she may lose her house to foreclosure, Johnson said.

Johnson described Szabo as a "Casanova" who ingratiates himself to women with "a hug here, a hug there" and offers of help. Then, he said, Szabo literally goes crying to them, begging for money.

Szabo is on parole for a stalking conviction, Johnson said.

In 1997, Szabo was sentenced to two years in prison on felony grand theft charges after bilking $100,000 from 11 women.

According to authorities in Orange County, Szabo made a habit of meeting women at gas stations and other public locations. He offered tearful stories and pleaded to borrow money for paying off bogus jewelry debts and helping with his father's surgery. Szabo took as much money he could get from the women and then fled.

In one case, Szabo borrowed $10,000 from a woman, but when she asked for the money, he claimed he was bankrupt and had no obligation to pay her. When pushed to return the cash, Szabo told the woman he would charge her with harassment, police said.

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